Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tongue Splitter

Brewed up another batch of beer yesterday evening. It's called TongueSplitter, from Northern Brewer Ale Kit's collection. It's called TongueSplitter because it has a lot of hops - bittering hops, flavor hops and aroma hops. And in pretty big quantities - 5 oz vs. the usual 1-2oz. Should be similar to a lot of the IPA

Bret, the neighbor who wanted to see how making homebrew was done, came over @ 6:45pm, and we started up. Despite a few glitches, like filling the brew kettle within 1" of the top, and having to watch for boil overs for the next 5-10 minutes, and not turning the burner onto "High", so it taking almost 2x to come up to boil than it should have, the whole process went well.

I had made a Yeast Starter on Sunday night, and fed it some more wort on Monday evening, so I had ~3-5x the normal amount of yeast. This morning, when I checked on it, the batch was already bubbling away, with about 1 bubble thru the airlock every 4 seconds. Now, almost a day after pitching the yeast (21 hours) it's pretty much continuous bubbles streaming thru, and a nice ~2 inch krausen.

I think it's going to be very tasty!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Another fun thing to do while drinking Beer...

Play Poker. Now, many of you might say it can be fun, but you'll loose lots of money. If that's the case, you're playing with the wrong crowd. Sunday night's came was in honor of my brother, James, being in town on a visit. Scooter and RIK came over, from the old poker days with James. Tehas was out of town, on another one of his business trips to save his career (if you don't have a real job, at least have one that keeps you busy, so it looks like you're important). Nava played the 5th seat, and James' old friend from High School, back in Ra-cha-cha, DavidA made up the 6th.

As the homebrew supply is rapidly dwindling, there was no homebrew drinking that evening. But, on the bright side, BevMo opened up less than a half mile from my house, so I picked up some CzechVar (aka BudVar, or the original Budweiser, from Budweis, Czech Republic), Leffe Blonde Ale (of "ever had a Belgian Blonde" fame), Spaten Marzen OktoberFest, and a Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA (Ralph Steadman, and man gets makes money by writing / illustrating books on traveling and drinking, etc. does their labels).

It was a better than average selection of beers to taste, and helped keep the humor flying. David, the only new member to the group, fit right in. Probably because he was a friend of James - anyone who has such low standards generally works in our group!

Why is it that so many poker games have stupid names? Mexican Sweat, Baseball in Chicago, Follow the Ladies, Texas Hold'Em? CherkyB, the master of minutiae, probably knows.

I'm not sure if it's because Scooter's smarter than I am, luckier, or wasn't drinking. But, if it hadn't have been for 1 last round of Ben Franklin, I'd have been up money, and Scooter would have been down. But, we figured $6-$8 of my money went to Scooter on that game, although he may have lost some of it to someone else. I curse you, Scooter! But, on the bright side, we didn't have any In Between games go out of control, and end up costing me $80.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Best Thing About Fall is.... BEER

All of you who know me know that beer is pretty much my religion. I love to drink it, brew it, think about it, and sometimes blog about it.

Drinking your own tasty beer is fantastic. Getting to the end of summer, when you haven't brewed in 3-4 months, and are running out of it is always a time of concern. But, the weather has been cooling off a bit, so the nesting instinct is kicking in again, and I feel like lining my nest with BEER.

Last thing I brewed was an Oatmeal Stout - it was a little weird for the first few weeks, with an almost soy aroma and initial taste, but that cleared up after a few more weeks in the bottle. The Stout and some of the fruit flavored beers (Apricot Bitter and Cherry Amber) are most of what I have left, other than the ill fated Peach Ginger Mead. Finally found some people who don't gag and run to spit it out when they taste it - Bret from across the street, who said it was better than the Apricot Bitter, and Rita and Richard, Rita is one of Nava's painting friends, who said it was like dessert beer, and went home with 3 bottles of it in appreciation!

Even I'm not that fond of drinking it. And worse, from what I know, it's the only alcohol that my brother James has ever (a) refused to drink more of, and (b) spat out the mouth-full he had. This from a guy who asked the Budwiser tour guide if they were just going to throw out the sample of skunked beer if he could finish it.

So - what's next? I've been thinking of doing a Belgian Blonde, but those are higher gravity beers, and should get 4-6 months aging before they're "at their best", so I don't want to do that first, and then have to restrain myself. Maybe I'll do just a new American Pale Ale, with lots of hops. Well, lots of hops for an extract brewer who only boils 2.5 gallons (limits how much bitterness the wort will get from the hops before it's saturated). Pretty simple recipe, not high gravity, so ferments pretty easy and is ready to drink in just 3-4 weeks.

Back to the Belgian Blonde - I tried to find a "clone" recipe for Leffe Blonde. Had some in France, it was quite tasty. Only problem is (a) no good homebrew store by me, which makes it difficult to get small quantities of specialty grains, (b) the one Leffe clone beer ingredient kit on the web says it's not so close, and (c) my normal online supplier ( Northern Brewer) only sells specialty grains by the pound, so if you need 1/8th to 1/4th of five different grains, you get left with a bunch of extra that will probably be stale before you use them.

I think I'll just order the NB's Belgian Strong Golden Ale after I do the TongueSplitter, and maybe stop by the local store (FermentationFrenzy) to see if their stock has improved while I pick up some more bottles.

PS Despite what CherkyB thinks, brewing with extract isn't "making beer tea". Of course, (a) he's got an opinion on everything, (b) he makes stuff up to irritate people, and (c) hasn't brewed in years, and probably won't, now that he has a new riding lawn mower!